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Archive for the ‘consumerism’ Category

This is my last semester of college and I am now going to transition from being a body in academia to a body in the workforce. This is a terrifying new concept because I honestly never became comfortable in academia and now I get to go be uncomfortable in a whole new arena.  (more…)

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When we speak about laboring bodies in class I am instantly aware that my relationship to labor is vastly different than that of my classmates. While I have worked in retail, food service, and other odd jobs, the majority of my work experience has been in sex work. I want to flesh out some of these differences, specifically in my experiences of being a stripper for the past four years. (more…)

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Hello! I am a mammal!

I have never particularly enjoyed shaving. Growing up, its importance was never stressed. In fact, my mom would tell me she was happy it was winter because it meant she didn’t have to shave — the impression I got was that she didn’t really like to do it, herself. When I was a preteen, she bought me razors and shaving gel, but didn’t pressure me to use them, and shaving didn’t seem to be a rite of passage among my peers, the way buying a bra was. I was in no rush to do it myself.  (more…)

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Ebola & Chocolate

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So, Politico did a thing

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“Treat yo self” was started by Parks and Recreation (the best show ever) but has evolved into a larger cultural trend. It’s a widely used hashtag on instagram and twitter. The idea behind treat yo self on the show is one day a year, two of the characters treat themselves to all the shopping, spa treatments, and other pamperings they want, without shame or regret for the price or excess. While it’s a fun (and funny) plotline of one episode, it’s also a strangely poignant idea.

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Not too long ago, I became extremely aware of the food I put into my body. This isn’t to say I started a diet, or that I am eating healthier as a result of this awareness — or that my eating habits have changed at all. But maybe a year ago, I realized that I eat animals and other things that come from their bodies, and it started to make me sick.

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Today I want to talk about pubes.

For many people, deciding how to groom their pubic hair is an issue fraught with anxiety, and women in particular are bombarded with images of completely smooth, hairless thighs and bikini lines that we are supposed to emulate and admire. We’re told to shave it, pluck it, wax it, sculpt it—it doesn’t really matter what method we use, as long as we’re rid of our unsightly hair. This standard is so pervasive that women’s pubic hair is now widely slandered as unhygienic (patently false), barbaric, and, above all, pornographic.

*pics of pubes after the cut* (more…)

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One of my closest friends is a fashion stylist. She chooses outfits, hair, makeup, and general looks or moods for photoshoots for natural makeup companies and independent designers. I have modelled for her in the past even though I am not a model and don’t look like a magazine model. I also model for my own Etsy store, selling vintage clothing. My friend has had eating disorders since puberty and I have not. I feel that her eating disorders are a sign of privilege and she feels that my “poverty genes” and post thyroid cancer synthetic metabolism are a sign of privilege. The arguments are frequent and comical.

I feel that it would be insulting to her profession and life’s path to say that her involvement with fashion feeds her disorder, so I often try to tell her eating disorders are a result of a sexist, competitive capitalism, a first world problem, and that if she stops aestheticizng the super young and super thin, wheat colored waify girls with vacant expressions, she won’t hold herself up for comparison to them. I tell her to keep her job but change her aesthetic, make it weirder, and I tell her she’s a misogynist. Then I go on like a hypocrite and smooth out my hair, put makeup on, and have my boyfriend shoot photos of me for Etsy, to make money. And I do make money. But recently, editing and cropping photos of myself, I feel like I look OOLLDD. So I call my friend and ask her for a disorder that will make me less old, less short, less frizzy, less dark, less tired. And there isn’t one. I’m really not sure what I’m aestheticising, but even though I’m perfectly happy with my weight I still feel the need to critically tear apart whatever I can about my own image, down to my assymetrical smile or uneven hair texture or slightly more almond shaped right eye than left one. Little little minute stupid details. All while knowing that I’m making this image public by my own free will, by my need to pay the bills and put gas in my car to get to school. Because those waify wheat colored girls are out there, and my tiny little capitalist enterprise is knowingly in competition with them, and growing up in the 80s and 90s, between Debbie Gibson and Kate Moss, I never felt that my features were pure or innocent, only exotic and “olive olive olive”, and now getting older.

Can a woman be this self-critical and also be a feminist?

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Why does what I’m wearing define my sexual orientation? I’m a 22-year old female, and I often change the way I dress, even on a day-to-day basis. I may feel like wearing a tight skirt, heels, make-up, and jewelry and shaving my legs on Monday. On Tuesday I might wear sweatpants and a T-shirt and throw my hair in a messy bun, and on Wednesday I may wear a baggy pair of guy’s jeans with paint stains on them, a tank top, and skater shoes but do my hair in a cute way. I enjoy dressing in any way that makes me feel comfortable, and I usually do.

But recently, I got a girlfriend, and even though I dress the same way I’ve always dressed, with my same unique style I’ve always had, I’ve heard some interesting comments, even from people that I know care about me and aren’t trying to be offensive. But if I’m dressed up (and meet society’s beauty standards) I’ll hear people say things like “Are you really a lesbian?” or “I don’t understand how you’re gay” and when I dress down, or “more like a guy” I hear “You’re such a lesbian.”

And I’m not even a lesbian! I’m bisexual!

I feel as though society often judges people as being gay or straight based on what they’re wearing. A recent conversation with my (straight, male) roommates went like this:

Roommate 1: “What are you wearing?”
Me: “Jeans.”
Roommate 2: “She has a girlfriend, she can wear what she wants.”
Roommate 1: “She’s only half-gay.”
Me: “What does that have to do with it?”
Roommate 1: “Well sometimes you dress like the straight half.”

First off, I consider myself a hundred percent gay and a hundred percent straight, and I hate it when people call me “half gay.” It’s not like I find women attractive half the time; I find attractive PEOPLE attractive ALL the time. Second, how come I can only wear “whatever I want” because I have a girlfriend? It’s not like my girlfriend dresses me. Could I wear girls’ jeans if I was a lesbian? Could I wear guys’ jeans if I was straight? Why are my roommates only saying things now? Don’t the same rules apply now as when I was single? Or am I “more gay” when I have a girlfriend?

It’s also weird to me that clothes can make you look gay (“He’s totally gay, look at his pants.”  “I can’t tell if he’s gay or if he just dresses really well…”  “She looks like a dyke in those pants.”) or even make you look straight (“Can you believe he’s gay? He dresses so straight!”) but I have never heard of clothes making you look bisexual. If bisexuality, homosexuality, and heterosexuality are all valid sexual orientations, why don’t our clothes make us look bisexual? Where can I buy pants that make me look like I date boys and girls?

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Here’s a description of the project from the the artist Holly Norris’ website:

“American Able” intends to, through spoof, reveal the ways in which women with disabilities are made invisible in advertising and mass media. I chose American Apparel not just for their notable style, but also for their claims that many of their models are just ‘every day’ women who are employees, friends and fans of the company. However, these women fit particular body types. Their campaigns are highly sexualized and feature women who are generally thin, and who appear to be able-bodied. Women with disabilities go unrepresented, not only in American Apparel advertising, but also in most of popular culture. Rarely, if ever, are women with disabilities portrayed in anything other than an asexual manner, for ‘disabled’ bodies are largely perceived as ‘undesirable.’ In a society where sexuality is created and performed over and over within popular culture, the invisibility of women with disabilities in many ways denies their sexuality, particularly within a public context.

Too often, the pervasive influence of imagery in mass media goes unexamined, consumed en masse by the public. However, this imagery has real, oppressive effects on people who are continuously ‘othered’ by society. The model, Jes Sachse, and I intend to reveal these stories by placing her in a position where women with disabilities are typically excluded.

I think this project is extremely fascinating in its critiques of advertising and mass media, specifically American Apparel, and the projects counter-depictions of disability.

How is Norris’ explanation of the invisibility of disabled bodies in mass media, including the de-sexualization and undesirability often seen intrinsic to disability, parallel to Garland-Thomson’s “Integrating Disability, Transforming Feminist Theory”? Do you believe that the depictions of disability in American Able are revolutionary? Can these counter-depictions of disabled bodies truly change advertising and mass media and the ways in which we view disability in our society?

Some of the following images by be not safe for work (NSFW).

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